The Gurbani is a true Guide of practical spirituality. For the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) is very logical, realistic, totally free of non-essentials, etc., thus down-to-earth and a practical Way of life.
Spirituality is not merely going to a Gurdwara once a week for an hour or so. Instead, according to the Gurbani, it’s understanding, remembering, acting, or living 24/7 in the Divine Consciousness or Shabad-Surrti (“ਸਬਦ ਸੁਰਤਿ”) — “Twenty-four hours a day”.
- ਆਠ ਪਹਰ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਿਮਰਹੁ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ॥੩॥: Twenty-four hours a day, O mortal, remember Prabh (Mool, Source, Jot Saroop…). ||3|| (sggs 191).
- ਮਨ ਰੇ ਅਹਿਨਿਸਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਸਾਰਿ ॥: O mind! Day and night, enshrine Hari’s Divine Virtues (sggs 21).
- ਮਨ ਮੇਰੇ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਜਾਗੁ ਹਰਿ ਚੇਤਿ ॥: O my mind, remain Awake (Aware) night and day, and remember “Hari” (Mool, Source, Jot Saroop …). (sggs 27).
Thus, as envisaged by the Gurbani, SIKHI IS NOT A PART-TIME JOB!
- ਊਤਮ ਕਰਣੀ ਸਬਦ ਬੀਚਾਰ ॥੩॥: The ultimate action is Reflections on the Shabad – Shabad Vichaar ||3|| (sggs 158).
- ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥: Sikhi sikhiaa gur veechaari (sggs 465).
In fact, according to the Gurbani, the only way to serve the Guru or the Satiguru is through the Shabad-Vichaar!
Accordingly, the Gurbani says that anybody devoid of the Shabad (upadesh, Wisdom…) is as good as dead in this world!
- ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਜਿਨੀ ਨ ਸੇਵਿਓ ਸਬਦਿ ਨ ਕੀਤੋ ਵੀਚਾਰੁ ॥ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਨ ਆਇਓ ਮਿਰਤਕੁ ਹੈ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥: (Those Jeev) who have not served the “Satiguru” (i.e., True Wisdom through the Shabad-Vichaar, and because of this) no Wisdom has Awakened within them, (they may appear as alive but they) are as dead in the world (spiritually dead-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). (sggs 88).
- ਜਿਉ ਮੰਦਰ ਕਉ ਥਾਮੈ ਥੰਮਨੁ ॥ ਤਿਉ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਸਬਦੁ ਮਨਹਿ ਅਸਥੰਮਨੁ ॥: As a pillar supports a building, similarly, the Gur-Shabad is the mind’s support. (sggs 282).
- ਸੋ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਜਿਤੁ ਸਾਚੁ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਗਿਆਨ ਰਤਨੁ ਸਾਰੰ ॥੬॥: That mind is pure, which enshrines Truth within, and the most excellent Jewel of Wisdom dwells in that mind. ||6|| (sggs 505).
What is Spirituality?
Though spirituality is difficult to define, in nutshell, it’s all about how a human conducts himself with all other beings in daily life. It brings about the best in a person, hence it is what a person can be, given the intense longing and commitment for Inner Growth for Mool-Realization (Source, Jot Saroop...).
Once Enlightened (the Gurmukh-hood), he cannot help being what he is (Jot Saroop … ). Come worldly temptation or any danger, nothing can change his nature from what he is. Throughout history of the world there have been such people (e.g., our Gurus, Bhagats …) who have set example for others through the Perfect Life they lived (Pooran Pada).
Nothing could push them, pull them or split them. They handled trying circumstances with composure or coolness. Their Spiritual eminence made it possible for them to retain the Vision of Pure Awareness at all times and yet relate to the ordinary world. Theirs the Real Spirituality! Difficult to define indeed! But, clearly, it represents the Essence or core of the human personality.
Religion and Spirituality
The Universal Dharma is one. However, man-made religions are many.
The true Essence of all these external religions must be Spirituality, pious Way of life. Or, we may say Spirituality must begin where religion ends.
Proper Understanding and Bibek Budhi (discriminating intellect of the Gurbani) are needed to differentiate between religion and Spirituality. Those who have become the Gurmukhs use various similes to help us grasp the differential as follows:
- Consider a tree with fruits. Religion is the finger pointing at the fruit (i.e., Spirituality) urging us that if we eat that fruit (Spirituality) we will gain Spiritual Realization (Mool-Realization). But Unfortunately, the majority of us (over 99.9 percent category) keep holding on the finger and just keep looking at the fruit (Spirituality) from a distance, instead of eating it. What’s the result? We miss out Spirituality.
- Next simile explains the difference between religion and Spirituality is that of the coconut. If we want to eat the flesh (Guddaa, kernel) of the coconut and drink the liquid from inside of it, then we need to open the outer shell (brown fiber) of the coconut and reach the inside — the essence. If we keep holding on the outer hard shell and keep biting on it, then we will miss out the liquid and the kernel (Guddaa) inside — it’s essence. If religion is compared to the outside of the coconut, Spirituality is then the inside of it (Guddaa or kernel): its Essence. In Spiritual ignorance, the majority of us mistake the inside for the outside! Just imagine, if one keeps chewing the husk and the outer skin of the coconut, he will only make his mouth bleed! Implication is that, if we do not go beyond the body-consciousness, we will never taste our True Nature (Jot Saroop).
- Another simile includes surface of the ocean and pearls that lie beneath its surface. If religion is compared to the surface of the ocean, Spirituality is like pearls that lie hidden deep beneath the surface. Now, if we just stand at the bank and keep counting waves, we will never attain pearls. To get to pearls, we will have to jump into the water and dive deep in it, beneath the surface (as the swan or Hans). The bank is static and stagnant. Thus if we just stand at the bank, we will go nowhere: we will have no Inner Growth, no Inner Development, no Inner Transformation; and no change in vision.
Although the SGGS reveals to us that we all have the capacity to Realize our Mool (Source, Origin, Jot Saroop…) “here” and “now”, but only a “rare” one develops the taste for true Spirituality.
Thus the Gurbani’s approach is very practical, logical and free of dogmatism and life-denial. In other words, the SGGS does not Teach us a theoretical or reactionary spirituality that would further bind us to Maya.
Instead, it teaches us Spirituality in action — practical Spirituality — and provides all that’s needed to resolve the tangles that plague us in the course of our day-to-day-life. Of course we must be determined, committed, earnest, willing to surrender false ego-sense (Haumai) and put forward the best self-effort (Shabad-Vichaar) to become Spiritually fit.
- ਸਭ ਕੈ ਮਧਿ ਸਗਲ ਤੇ ਉਦਾਸ ॥: Remain in the midst of all, and yet detached from all (sggs 296).
As to how a person can lead both worldly and Spiritual Life side by side successfully has been beautifully explained in the SGGS.
- ਹਾਥ ਪਾਉ ਕਰਿ ਕਾਮੁ ਸਭੁ ਚੀਤੁ ਨਿਰੰਜਨ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੨੧੩॥: With your hands and feet, do all your work, (but) let your consciousness remain with the Niranjan (beyond Maya’s stains). ||213|| (sggs 1376).
Thus, the sure way to Spiritual Progress seems to be remaining detached even while leading an active life in the world. True detachment is to live without likes and dislikes (e.g., love and hate…).
- ਜਉ ਲਉ ਭਾਉ ਅਭਾਉ ਇਹੁ ਮਾਨੈ ਤਉ ਲਉ ਮਿਲਣੁ ਦੂਰਾਈ ॥: As long as this (mind) believes in love and hate (i.e., likes and dislikes), it is difficult (for this mind) to meet (its Mool, Source, Jot Saroop…). (sggs 609).
In nutshell, the crux of real Spirituality is the quest to know one’s Real Being (one’s True Nature, Mool, Jot Saroop…), within.